The UltraShift Plus transmission features automated clutch clutch technology and software that uses gradetechnology and software that grade sensing, sensing, weight-computation, and throttle position/position/movement sensing.

Computers don't get it right most of the time. They get it right all the time. To leave drivers in control when they want to take control, Hold (now Manual) and Low positions let the driver tell the computer when to shift up or down, stay in gear or allow only downshifts. If a shift cannot be completed, the computer won't even start the shift. No more getting hung out in neutral.

Early this century, Eaton expanded the computer's control by letting it actuate the clutch. The new clutch-less or two-pedal transmission family was called UltraShift. With the UltraShift, or Freedom Line, shifting a truck became as easy as driving a car, but there were safety and control needs not addressed.

Safety and control

This past September, Eaton introduced UltraShift Plus, a family of task-oriented transmissions with three vocation-specific variations designed to meet safety and control needs. The transmissions series features automated clutch technology and software that uses grade sensing, weight-computation and throttle position/movement sensing. Three models are specifically for various construction, off-road, and heavy-haul operations. Each has its own gear ratios and software designed to improve fuel economy and better low speed control.

The new application-specific transmissions include:

  • The Vocational Construction Series (VCS), with an overall ratio of 20:1. Its deep reduction gearing and multiple high-speed reverse meet the specific needs required for highway construction work and general dump operations requiring extended reverse operation. It features 10 forward and three reverse speeds.
  • The Vocational Multipurpose Series (VMS), with a huge overall ratio of 36:1, 11 forward and three reverse speeds. It has an ultra-low gear reduction to enhance low-speed maneuverability. It is designed for curb pouring and other applications where creeping is required.
  • The Vocational Extreme Performance (VXP), with an overall ratio of 20:1, 18 forward and four reverse speeds. It gives users maximum power capacity and has no vehicle weight limits. It has excellent grade-ability and features for the toughest environments.
  • Producer benefits

    These features offer excellent benefits for concrete producers. As with fully automatic transmissions, there is no need for drivers to learn special shifting techniques, so they can concentrate on transporting the concrete where it's needed and getting the truck there safely. With weight savings up to 300 pounds, compared with torque-converter-equipped automatics, payload can be increased. Maximum torque ranges to 2250 lb-ft, much higher than full automatics.

    The automated clutch and new programming help address one issue that fully automatic transmissions have had: the constant application of torque during acceleration or hill climbing. As great as the features seem on paper, you have to drive these transmissions to fully appreciate them.

    There is no way to describe the feeling of confidence and safety I experienced when using the Hill Start Aid. I started from a full stop on an 8% grade with no noticeable rollback in a dump loaded to 80,000 pounds.

    When I tried the same thing in a similarly specified, similarly loaded truck with an automatic, I experienced considerable rollback and almost bumped a vehicle behind me.

    I was also amazed to creep the dump forward and reverse at one-half mile an hour. I also took a 160,000-pound Michigan trailer (eight axles plus the tractor) up a 15% grade. The MXP transmission went from 16th to 2nd in just three steps with never a shudder or shake, and it kept moving all the way to the top.

    The entire family of UltraShift Plus transmissions represents a new generation of automation. More importantly, they offer safety, control and economy not possible just a few years ago.